When a married couple has a baby in Florida, it’s legally assumed that the husband is the father of the child. But if two unmarried people have a baby, the paternity of the child can be legally unclear. While the couple is together, the paternity of the child typically isn’t called into question, but if the couple splits up, the father might want to verify paternity so that he can request custody of the child.

Why does an unwed father need a paternity test?

When unmarried couples have a child together, their best option is to ensure that the father’s name is on the birth certificate. Otherwise, he’ll have to take a paternity test in the event that the couple splits up and the father wants custody. Without verification of his paternity, the father will have no legal claim to child custody or visitation rights.

Once he’s been established as the child’s father, the parent can start negotiating for custody or visitation. If the mother is the custodial parent, the father may have to pay for child support. Unpaid child support can lead to a number of penalties, including jail time in extreme cases. However, if the father doesn’t want to continue having a relationship with the child, he can request a termination of parental rights.

How to get help with establishing paternity

If the paternity of a child is called into question, the father might wish to hire an attorney. The attorney may answer his questions and help him figure out the easiest way to establish his paternity. Once he’s done that, the attorney might also be able to negotiate for custody or visitation rights as well as update his will to ensure that the child receives an inheritance when he dies.